A budding commercial enterprise that combines agriculture and tourism has prompted some communities to explore the need for regulations.

Agritourism speaks to recreational activities, experiences or events held on private agricultural land. Putnam Township Planner Stephen Hannon says these types of happenings are occurring more frequently, as the agritourism trend continues upward. Agritourism often includes events like barn weddings and farm-to-table dinners, and places to pick fresh produce. In addition to providing various entertainment and educational activities, agritourism also serves as a supplemental source of income for the owners of the private agricultural lands.

Hannon says a number of communities, including Putnam Township, are considering establishing an agritourism ordinance. The township’s Planning Commission met Wednesday and discussed the issue, taking into account the impact agritourism could have on the community.

Hannon says board members want to make sure the ordinance includes standards regarding venue, occupancy, traffic, restrooms and compliance with safety codes. Overall, the majority of the board noted they were in favor of agritourism, though noted they have a lot of work to do in further exploring, drafting and carefully crafting regulations. The board plans to take the issue up again for further discussion at a later meeting.

In the meantime, Chris Schell, owner of Schell Family Farm in Pinckney, has begun to develop a vision that would turn his farm into a hub of agritouristic activities. Though it’s still very preliminary, Schell is interested in expanding his farm’s offerings with the idea to someday add a market and winery. He also has ideas for entertainment that would appeal to the entire family, like hay rides, concerts and walking trails. (DK)